Western education 2013

Monday, May 31, 2010


...... the feet still hurt even with a double layer of gel insoles in my new runners.  My feet were in so much pain last night that I was unable to sleep as I kept trying to stretch them.  Max hates feet and yet last night, he helped massage them

The long weekend was spent out in Ottawa re-connecting with classmates I knew 30 years ago.  I started out my travels by driving to Kitchener and parking my car in a car pool lot, meeting up with Roman who drove the rest of the way.  We were able to catch up on the long drive and fill in the missing years.  He used to live a few doors down from the townhouse I was staying in after I left home.  Now it's just his Mom who lives there. We pull into the townhouse complex of my long-time pal Debbie after being on the highway for 7 hours - she and Alfie have fallen asleep on their respective comfy chairs but he wakes first when he hears me call his name.  He gets Deb up and she sleepily drags herself off the couch and grins from ear to ear as the arms come up and engulf me in a huge hug.  We step back and now we are both grinning.... the weekend has begun, at least for me.  Deb has to go to bed as she is going to work in a few short hours.  Roman is off to his Mom's house and we promise to meet the next day to do some touring.

The morning brings the warm sunshine and the smell of fresh coffee - Alfie is in the kitchen making me breakfast and I am totally spoiled.  We spend the morning getting to know each other and I listen to the slight east-coast accent.  His eyes are blue like the sky, he is tall and handsome and well spoken and I can see what a wonderful guy he is and why Deb loves him so much.  Roman arrives in the late morning and he needs to shop for a new bike - his mid-life crisis has him getting into shape in various sports and judging by the conversation he has with the sales guy at the local Sports Chek, he really knows his stuff.  He is methodical and careful about his purchase as he goes over every detail comparing the two top choices.  I am used to being around techies, as I am already one and his choice reflects the esthetics after the mechanicals both pass.  He has ridden the bikes multiple times through the store and still finds the color determines the final choice. We walk around the mall and choose a lebanese place to eat.  Roman finds the choice a good one and digs into his shawarma.  It reminds me of one of my best friends who lives in the area - I have left her a message but will not hear back from her until I have already left the city.  Roman drops me off at Deb's and makes his way home but later calls to let us know that he would like to eat dinner with us since he has no dinner plans.  Roman comes for dinner and drinks and Alfie offers to drive us out to the Byward Market.  It has been a long time since I was last here.  The evening is warm and the population begins to soar as the evening progresses - it is after all, Friday night!!  It is the official location for the 4 bars participating in the reunion.  Our class is between decades, so we start with the 70's crowd at the Honest Lawyers and then later find ourselves in the Velvet Room for the 80's group where we run into many of our classmates.  It was a fun evening but fatigue finally won as we headed back to the Honest Lawyers to meet up with our designated driver.  Stepping inside the bar for a last parting drink for my companions, I bumped into Deb Mac... she was like a second Mom to me - 8 years older and wiser beyond her years.  She would often be a source of comfort when the world was feeling crazy and looking at her I couldn't help but cry!!  Hugs and kisses later, we chat and catch up. The bar fight in the corner, complete with blood bath signal that it is time to go home and a few minutes later, the dynamic trio is on the sidewalk getting picked up by Alfie!!  We giggle all the way home and find our way up to bed.  Debbie has had a few too many and I can hear her throwing up in the bathroom next door - Yikes, sounds like she uncoiled all 32 feet of intestines and she is golfing in the early morning!!!!

The morning comes quickly and I can hear the two of them leave the house just as I am pulling myself free of the sheets.  It looks like it might rain at their golf tournament and I roll out of bed searching out a cup of joe.  I find the almost full coffee pot and the irish creamer on the counter.... ah, life is good.  It will be a few hours until Roman calls, so I shower, eat and cozy in with my book.  We are going to the tulip festival where an old classmate of ours is playing at a park next to Dow's Lake.  We arrive and walk around with many tourists and are dissapointed that the tulips have all flowered the week before and have only brown leaves and empty stalks to photograph.... weird spring in Ontario!!  Rob Letourneau is in the band Black Cherry as the drummer - a truly talented player whose husky voice and constant physical movement reminds me of a kid who would have been diagnosed as ADHD in today's world.  He is pure fun with his quick smile and twinkling brown eyes.  His wife is the centered smart manager who keeps him grounded and eyes us as we approach.  Her guard drops when she recognizes Roman.  Roman and Rob - both musicians, both talented and complimentary of each other shake hands and start to reminisce about days long ago.  Roman is an accomplished guitar player - learned most of his music by ear.  We listen to the tunes they belt out with their newest addition, a young lady whose nervousness shows in the stilted movements and off-tone voice.... it's her first public gig and her father is sitting front row...  Diane G. shows up with her hubby and I am able to chat with her and get her signature in a little book I have purchased for the weekend.  We have a few more hours before I have to get back to the house to get ready for the evening activities at our high school - school tour and dinner.  We drive over to my old neighborhood, to the townhouses that were still under construction when we moved in.  It looks so small when we drive up to my old unit and get out to take pictures.  I was in my mid teens when I moved out - I remember the morning of the last day I lived there and the unceremonious handing over of the house keys and the $30 thrust into my hands.  I had a suitcase and my tape deck with me and I was moving out - June 1981.... still just a kid.  The back yards were just postage stamp size and still are but now the home owners have claimed the territory beyond their little wooden fences for flowers and vegetables.
The green space behind our unit is now filled with scrub bushes and trees.  The owner of our unit and the owners of the end unit next door come out and we chat about the old days - they are younger than I am and the one husband has lived in the neighborhood his whole life - I likely babysat him.  They have roots, I am still developing mine after having been an army brat who moved more times than I care to remember.  We leave the neighborhood and I ponder about what it would have been like to have parents still living in the old neighborhood..... I do not recognize anyone as we slowly drive along the loop and past the swimming pool that is under repair. It is time to go 'home' and get ready for the evening. Roman can walk from where he lives and will meet us there.

What an interesting gathering of students who span the course of 40 years.  The school was only 8 years old when I first attended but looking around now.... you can see the wear and tear.  There are portables on the far side of the school and one in the back making it look rather rag tag.  The trees soar above our heads and block the bank of second story windows in the front.  I remember doing greens keeping when the trees were just barely above the first floor lower windowsills.  The hallway walls are a host to colorful student artistic endeavors - a wonderful take from the once barren and austere look of our time.  The halls are smaller but I remember where all the lockers used to be and are now reclaimed for sitting space or new classrooms.  I could feel the rush of air as fast feet move past when I close my eyes and I envision what it was like and I point out memories to Deb and Peter whom I have accompanied on this journey through time.  We laugh as we stand in front of colorful artwork in the front stairwell and I can't see past the tree blocking the view..... so long ago as we put the camera away and walk on.  No regrets, it was a fun walk into the past and parts of my heart tug when I remember the friends I had and whom I lost touch with and how distant I am from my past..... something to be said about roots.  I will never go back for another reunion but will keep in touch with those I have just spent time with.

I am ready to leave for home early in the evening after a wonderful dinner with Alfie, Deb, Roman and Alfie's son, daughter-in-law and two small girls.  It made me so home sick for my own children.  Roman helps me pack the van and as we pull away and I see Deb standing at the end of her front walk, the tears begin to roll.  Roman rolls down the window and lets Deb know that I am bawling, and I am.  We are going home and the long drive begins to wear on my nerves.... need to get home and we are running out of gas!!  We make it into only one of two gas stations open on the stretch between Ottawa and Kitchener with only 3 KM to spare - we laugh and take pictures for posterity.  I manage to get into my car and head  towards home and feel a deep sense of relief when I finally tuck myself in beside my amazing husband.

The rest of the week has been spent enjoying an unusually hot spring - the pots around the pool are in full bloom and the pool is a balmy 77 degrees taking us into the new month of June.

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